People often ask me where I get my inspiration from and how I stay inspired when I’m feeling so exhausted. The best answer I can find these days is reading.
As I prepare to launch the first month of the VNM Virtual Book Club, I took a moment to check in with the community to see what blocks are holding you all back from picking up a book.
Here’s what you had to say with some advice to break through the blockages.
1.“My phone distracts me.”
Try This: Leave your book in the bathroom and don’t bring your phone with you when you go to the bathroom. Read while you’re on the toilet, while you’re brushing your teeth, or if you manage the space - while you’re in the tub.
or Try This:
Think of this as an opportunity to practice boundary setting with yourself. The more fluent & efficient you become with setting boundaries with yourself, the easier it become to set boundaries with others. So, if setting boundaries feels important and valuable to you, this is where you can start. Try 5 minutes of reading without looking at your phone, then increase after a few days. Set a timer if you feel uneasy & distracted.
2.“I never know what to read.”
Try This: Join the book club! I’ll pick the books for you so you don’t have to worry about that. If a particular topic doesn’t interest you, you can choose from the ‘additional books’ list at the bottom of the 2019 tentative reading list outline.
3.“I don’t have the time.”
Try This: As a new parent, I feeeelll you! Try setting a daily page goal for yourself and set it low - even 1 page! Then leave your book in the bathroom and read while you’re in there.
I set my daily reading goal at 2 pages so I feel I can actually accomplish it. This simple goal helps me get the book in my hand. Some days those 2 pages are a struggle, but other days I cruise through a whole chapter. For me, it all tends to even out to about 1 book per month. And in the book club, I’ve even mapped out some daily page goals to help you finish!
4.“I can’t get time away from my kids.”
Try This: Include your kids! Depending on their age, you can make reading time either quiet solo play time (if they’re not reading on their own yet) or family reading time. Set an appropriate time for reading/solo play based on your child’s age. And to help the kids feel empowered in understanding the boundary, use a kitchen time to let them see and hear how long reading time lasts. Pair this with a low daily page goal and I think you might surprise yourself! With my babe, who is still too young for independent reading and would be immediately interested in chewing on my book, I typically read while they nap.
(If you’re thinking, “no way, not my kids. my kids are maniacs and never stop moving.” consider just giving it a shot for 10 minutes a day for one month. Kids may not take to a new habit after 1 day or even 1 week, but after a month they’ll likely settle in. If not, it may be worth considering asking a professional in your area for some boundary setting tips or heading to an early literature story circle at your local library.)
5.“I feel like there’s something more valuable/productive for me to be doing and/or feel guilty not working or doing housework.”
Try This: Try reframing the dialogue. What do you receive from reading? Inspiration? Creative energy? A relaxing moment away from the stress of the day? And what does that give to you? Does it help you become more present? Does it make you a more focused parent? Does it help you create greater impact in your life?
If you bring your focus to what you’re receiving from reading, prioritizing it will be easy if that thing is important to you.
I personally also prefer to read books that offer tangible skills that I can implement immediately in my life. That helps me stay focused because I know 5 minutes spent reading is an investment in myself, my home, my family, and my business.
6.“I have trouble staying focused/I think too much while I read.”
Try This: Find a better book. If you constantly find yourself drifting away from the page, put that book down and find one that captivates you. Once you have a book that really pulls you in, if you find yourself occasionally drifting, that’s likely a sign that what you’ve read feels important to you. Take a minute to close the book and let yourself think about what was introduced. Explore how it relates to your life and how you could use the words to create impact. Then dive on back into the pages.
(A little example of this: I started and stopped 5 books last year because they just weren’t the right books for me to read at that particular moment time. The books were good, interesting, well written, well researched, and still I struggled to get through a page. That was a sign that the book just wasn’t the right fit for my current situation. Once I found a good fit, I easily read my page goal each day and even surpassed it most of the time.)
7.“I’m tapped out from mental and emotional output and can’t seem to absorb/focus on a book.”
Try This: Prioritize rest and then find a different book.
Regarding rest: hey, I’ve got you covered here! I’ve created a free 5 day rest reclamation workshop that takes only 10 minutes per day - and it’s emailed right to you!
Now, if a book is draining you mentally and emotionally, it’s not the best book to be reading right now. When you find the book that’s right for you right now, it’ll energize you, excite you, fill you up. And on days when you’re feeling scraped out, that book can be just the battery charge you need to get through the day. (And of course, somedays, nothing beats a nap.)
8.“I have Depression/anxiety/PTSD”
Try This: I understand this one well. My best offering here is to focus on reading books that inspire you and spark joy. Avoid books that are triggering or talk about topics that are deeply charged without offering solutions. Once you’re feeling more centered, you could always circle around to a more challenging topic. But honestly, I say, focus on your joy while reading and you may find a new tool to help you navigate this heaviness.